Inspired by the recent Environmental Studies on the Piedmont trip, as well as my recent in class presentation on permaculture I have been thinking a lot about Native Americans, our environment’s history, and sustainable permaculture.
As thanksgiving comes near, more thought goes into Native Americans. However, this holiday does not coincide with any of their traditions at all. The typical thanksgiving dinner corresponds with 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, not to mention piles of pollution created from factory farming. This certainly goes against the Iroquois principle of seven generation sustainability; a concept urging the current generation to live sustainably and work for the benefit of the generation seventh into the future.
Native Americans domesticated many staple food which are eaten around the world today. These include: corn, wild rice, potatoes, yams, peanuts, squash, pumpkins, and numerous species of beans. All of these are good options to consider in making a sustainable and healthy thanksgiving meal; making it a great time to help support local farms. Thanksgiving is also a great time to start composting; a lot of scraps are bound to be leftover.
It is unarguable that our environment, in America, has changed drastically for the worse since the mayflower arrived in 1620. These maps show the deforestation that has occurred since then:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”. This Chinese proverb is a very inspiring message for us. We each have our trees we want to plant, both literally and figuratively. A great motto for our involvement in the future of sustainability. By checking out http://www.globalforestwatch.org/map/ you can see that much of the deforested area above has gained tree cover over the past decade.
Many people, including Native Americans, have developed ingenious ways to sustainably take care of the land. These techniques are defined as permaculture. As pointed out in http://www.iiirm.org/publications/Articles%20Reports%20Papers/Environmental%20Protection/SD-Cornell-2.PDF , “We are conditioned to take infrastructure for granted in our everyday lives until something goes amiss”. With all the light shed on climate change and sustainability nowadays, the flaws in man-made infrastructure are most visible, and open to the most change. It is the perfect time to push new and old permaculture designs into our society and the environment.